A Little Too Friendly

Travelling around the world solo is a great experience, but sometimes the local men want to get a little to friendly, most of the time its in jest and a bit of fun but sometimes it can get a little scary…Have you ever been to the Middle East or countries surrounding it?  I have travelled to quite a few countries and can tell you a few good stories about the men, they like blonde women well I guess not many of the local women are.

It all started on my first day flying into Istanbul, my mate and I caught a cab from the airport into the city, as we paid the driver this guy came running over to the cab opened my door and said, “You’re gorgeous, you want sex,” oh crikey I thought to myself it’s only day one of a four week trip!

Walking around the city a lot of the shop keepers invite you into their carpet stores and give you apple tea, usually somewhere in the conversation they will ask you to marry their son and will offer their prized bull or some of their cows to my father in return, it’s always a good laugh but deep down inside I’m sure they are hoping one tourist will say yes one day.

MY IRAQI FRIENDS

Meeting Hsad (kneeling) and his mates in Aqaba

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Turkish carpets and apple tea

We camped a night on the beach at Aqaba in Jordan, it is an interesting spot where the borders of the countries Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia meet at the Gulf of Aqaba which flows into the Red Sea.  That night we could see flashes in the distance and woke the next morning to hear Saudi Arabia was being bombed.  I took a walk down to the water to take some pictures of the rising sun and was met by Hsad and his friends playing soccer on the beach.  They were all from Iraq and we spoke at length about the Iraqi war and they didn’t have any kind words about Bush and what he was doing to their country.  We took some photos on his camera which he emailed me, we still keep in contact, he lives now in Nigeria and often asks me to go over and meet him.  Maybe one day.

This brings me to my next story from Aqaba we caught a ferry to Dahab in Egypt.  Things don’t happen fast in this part of the world, the ferry was quite big with lounge areas, private rooms, levels for cars etc.  We had our own lounge area on the ferry it was quite known to the authorities there were a lot of Aussies and Kiwis on board.  The departure time for the ferry came and went and we still hadn’t moved, we were told by our tour guide that the ferry won’t go until it is full.  An Egyptian doctor came on board and said that he has to see all the Australians on board and test us for sars (this was during the epidemic) no one else had to be seen, not even the kiwis.  We all thought this was a bit strange but there was nothing that could be done he said he wouldn’t let us into Egypt if we didn’t see him.  We had to go into the room he was in and were told he would put a stethoscope to our chest and breathe in and out a few times and that would be it.  The trouble is when the women went in to see the “doctor” the stethoscope would disappear but his hand would still appear on our chest.  Not a pleasant experience but it was reported back to the tour company so hopefully it didn’t happen again.

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Meeting a guard outside the Monestry in Petra, Jordan

The first time I travelled solo I flew to Denmark for a few days and then caught a bus to Berlin.  I arrived at the bus stop in Copenhagen early and got myself a window seat, the bus was full that day and a Yugoslavian guy sat next to me.  The guy kept staring at me through the bus ride which was making me a bit uncomfortable so I buried my head in a book and tried not to think about it.  Halfway through the journey we boarded a ferry to travel over the sea into Germany, we got off the bus and went upstairs where there were restaurants and duty free shopping.  This guy kept following me around everywhere and sat with me when I sat down and started saying things to me like “you’re a woman and I’m a man and tonight we will have sex because that is what we do,” “I’ll book a hotel for us”.  We got back on the bus and he never stopped talking to me about his life and pulling all documents out of his bag and kept telling me I can meet him back in his country.  He was pretty persistent and wouldn’t stop when I told him that I already had a hostel booking and I wasn’t going to go with him.  Finally the bus pulled into Berlin I grabbed my bag and left, fortunately he got the message and didn’t follow me.

I went on a tour through part of the Balkans in the summer of 2008, the tour was meeting in Split in Croatia so I took a few days before the tour and flew into Budapest in Hungary for a walk along the Danube and then caught the train to Zagreb for a few days and then a bus onto Split.  I had caught an overnight train a few years earlier with friends from Budapest to Romania but this time I was solo.  The train ride was about 12 hours and I would get into Zagreb about 10pm.  The train was a fairly old with large cubicles with two long seats facing each other.  I sat in a cubicle with a couple of other people for safety but as the train journey continued I was the only one left, by this time it was getting dark outside.   This old drunk man stumbled into the cubicle and sat opposite me, he was pretty rough looking and looked like he was homeless, he kept trying to start a conversation with me through his drunk swurl but of course not knowing Hungarian I couldn’t understand what he was saying, the next thing I knew he started liking his lips than stood up and dropped his draws and let it all hang out.  What the…, ewwww, I wasn’t scared or anything the guy was so drunk.  Finally he got the picture after I was ignoring him, he pulled his pants up and left, I saw him stumbling out along the tracks at the next stop, in the distance there was a bunch of men standing around the fire, it must be the old man flasher stop.

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The calm before the storm, on the train from Budapest to Zagreb

I wrote this article to let people know while travelling is fun 99% of the time, there is always that 1% that can make it unpleasant sometimes.  It’s best to know a little bit about where you are going and have plans for at least the first night in a foreign place so you have a place to head to and aren’t wandering the streets looking lost and vulnerable.

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